A new right-wing “election integrity” project is being headed by Cleta Mitchell, an attorney who took part in the notorious call on which former President Donald Trump threatened and badgered Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to reverse the election results in that state. The new “multi-million dollar National Election Protection Initiative” was announced by right-wing astroturf group FreedomWorks via an “exclusive” to Newsmax.
“Election integrity is the most important issue to the conservative movement,” FreedomWorks said in a statement to Newsmax. “The outcome of the 2020 presidential election and its associated legal battles underscore the need for conservatives to engage at all levels in fighting for secure elections that generate confidence.”
As the Washington Post reported in January, Mitchell was an “early backer” of Trump’s false claims about election fraud and a stolen election. Shortly after the election was called for Biden, Mitchell claimed that Georgia’s recount was a “total sham,” tweeting, “Happy to be considered a nut job because I believe in the rule of law.”
On the Raffensperger call, Mitchell said that Trump’s legal team had been “formally and informally” contacting Georgia election officials “for weeks.” State election officials on the call repeatedly told Trump, Mitchell, and then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that their claims were based on false information.
In January, Right Wing Watch reported that Mitchell signed a Dec. 30 letter from right-wing movement leaders urging Senate Republicans to “protect the republic” by contesting electoral votes from battleground states won by Biden.
To launch her new project, Mitchell appeared Sunday on the Newsmax program “Save the Nation,” hosted by FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon, where she claimed that the 2020 election had caused Americans to lose confidence in the nation’s elections and would lead to a totalitarian government (see video below).
Mitchell dismissed longtime progressive efforts to protect voters from voter suppression, charging that they are ploys to “wipe out” election safeguards. Mitchell called H.R. 1, a voting-rights and democracy-reform bill that passed in the House and is now being considered in the Senate, an attempt to “rig” elections in Democrats’ favor. Mitchell urged right-wing activists to “hammer” their senators to oppose the legislation.
In addition to opposing federal voting rights legislation, FreedomWorks’ efforts appear to be targeting the same battleground states cited in the right-wing leaders’ Dec. 30 letter: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. FreedomWorks’ list also includes North Carolina.
Before Mitchell began volunteering with Trump’s post-election efforts, she represented “a who’s who of prominent Trumpworld people” in recent years, the Daily Beast reported in January. Mitchell’s clients have included Trumpism strategist Steve Bannon and the right-wing True the Vote, an organization that has a track record of opposing mail-in ballots, challenging voter registrations, and advocating for voter ID laws. Mitchell was reportedly involved in a project to “protect” Trump and attack Democrats that right-wing activist Ginni Thomas presented to the secretive Council for National Policy in 2019. Mitchell resigned as a partner at the law firm of Foley & Lardner after a recording of the call with Raffesnperger became public.